Russia president seeks Hong Kong expertise

17th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held talks Sunday with Hong Kong's leader on a visit aimed at improving business ties and harnessing the territory's financial expertise to modernise Russia.

Welcoming the first Kremlin chief to visit Hong Kong, Chief Executive Donald Tsang said that bilateral trade grew by a "remarkable" 63 percent last year.

"I came to visit you as I have promised, and I think that this sufficiently increases the level of cooperation between Hong Kong and the Russian Federation," Medvedev said.

Referring to the trade figures, he said: "On the one hand they are rather good, but it is still early to relax -- all the more taking into account the (existing) prospectives of economic ties, strengthening of humanitarian cooperation.

"Therefore me and the Russian delegation are interested to boost our cooperation as a result of a first-ever visit by a Russian leader to Hong Kong."

Medvedev arrived late Saturday leading a business delegation as he seeks to diversify his country's economy beyond oil and gas.

Last year United Company RUSAL, the world's top aluminium producer, became the first Russian company to list in Hong Kong, and several others are seeking to follow suit.

Yuri Soloviev, president of VTB Capital, the investment banking arm of Russian state bank VTB, said Russian firms were planning to list "billions of dollars (in stocks) this year" on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

"This is one of the most liquid markets globally, and therefore the companies we are representing here will be sufficiently capitalised (as a result of listing)," he told reporters on the sidelines of Medvedev's visit.

He did not name specific companies but said that energy, commodity, transportation and consumer market firms were eyeing Hong Kong listings.

"Finances are no doubt a priority sphere of cooperation with Hong Kong," Medvedev's foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said ahead of the visit.

A former British colony which was returned to China in 1997, Hong Kong has for years been ranked the world's freest place to do business.

"The deepening of financial cooperation is also useful for Russia with an eye to plans to make Moscow an international financial centre," the Kremlin said, adding that it also wanted to boost trade and investment ties.

Medvedev will seek to persuade Hong Kong-based investors to take part in the development of a high-tech hub outside Moscow which the Kremlin chief sees as Russia's answer to Silicon Valley, it said.

Medvedev arrived from the southern Chinese island province of Hainan, where he met with leaders of top emerging economies China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Russia has in recent years sought to align itself more closely with China as it seeks to unlock new energy markets in Asia. This is Medvedev's third visit to the country since he became president in 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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